Travel Channels Best BBQ Contest
By Philip Scher
In barbecue contests, teams of devoted and elaborately equipped barbecuers converge to match recipes and cooking techniques, the winners earning trophies, prize money, bragging rights and the time of their lives. For spectators, cook-offs represent a great excuse for a down-home party with loads of barbecue and beer plus concert stages, craft fairs, auctions, races, and carnival rides among other fun and games.
Ground rules: Barbecue is a noun, not a verb, and its production, unlike grilling, involves slow cooking over low heat — "low and slow" is the chef's mantra. Every cook-off spotlights pork in various permutations; most also include beef brisket, chicken, sauce, side dishes, but none permit the use of anything but wood or charcoal heat. Unless they become judges or somehow ingratiate themselves to contestants, spectators usually don't get to sample contest entries because there's just not enough to go around. Fortunately, plenty of commercial vendors offer free samples and meals for sale. And if any of these World's Best Barbecue Contests are out of reach, consult the barbecue contest calendar for information about cook-offs close to home.
10. National Capital Barbecue Battle
9. Massachusetts State BBQ & Blues Festival
8. Canadian Barbecue & Chili Festival
7. National Championship Barbecue Cook-Off
6. Big Pig Jig
5. Blue Ridge BBQ Festival
4. World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest
3. Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue
2. American Royal Barbecue
1. Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest